We then walked to the forth challenge.
Before the leaders got there, I surveyed what was set up before us. We were standing behind a row of wooden beams. About eight to ten feet in front of us, there was a wooden pallet at the foot of a tree. On either side of it a few feet away were two more pallets. In between us and the three pallets was a rope swing. I understood the challenge before they explained it.
We had to all get on the wooden pallets only by using the rope swing. We couldn’t touch the ground. We had to somehow get the rope without touching the ground. Then another rule was added.
Two people would be blindfolded.
And suddenly they placed a blindfold in my hand.
I actually thought it would be interesting. Taking away one of the senses is pretty interesting to me. Just how other senses kind of enhance themselves. At least they’re supposed to.
I tied the bandana around my eyes.
At first I was fine.
And then…. Then I wasn’t.
Gradually, the fact that I didn’t really know anyone in the group that well freaked me out. I couldn’t see who was around me. When I wasn’t blindfolded, it was easy to fade into the background. But now I was. Was I standing at the front of the group? Behind everyone? If I stepped backwards, would I run into a tree?! I knew nothing without my eyesight.
Then it was my turn to grab the rope and swing across to we’re others were waiting on the wood pallet. They’d catch me. Who? My mind asked. Someone pulled me forward. I thought it was one person until they spoke. Their voice startled me. It wasn’t who I thought.
Everyone was telling me what to do. How to grab the rope. How to swing across. Who would catch me. How far it was. That they’d catch me. That I’d be fine.
I raised my voice around the chaos and demanded only one person speak to me. They calmed down a little but the voices still overwhelmed me. I asked if I was facing the right way. I grabbed the swing and then was flying through the air.
Strange hands caught and steadied me. They guided me to the back of the pallet. I closed my arms around my chest and leaned against the tree. I tried to make myself as small as possible.
Someone touched the ground. We had to start over. Someone led me back to the starting point. Then they left me alone again. I tried not to move. Not to breathe. Not to be noticed. But I couldn’t tell if I wasn’t being noticed. I couldn’t tell if people were staring at me. I couldn’t tell if they’d completely forgotten about me.
They started the challenge again. I spent my time trying not dissolve into a panic attack. Tears burned just below my eyes. I tried desperately to keep myself calm. My mind was running wild. I couldn’t focus. My thoughts blurred together.
It was my turn to swing across to the tiny wooden island again. One of the people I knew the best was on the otherwise waiting for me. He was a good friend’s finance, so I did trust him more than the others in the class.
Again, I was in the air. They caught me and again guided me to a place where I wouldn’t be in the way. He was the first to kind of see I wasn’t doing too well.
“How you doing?” He asked me.
“Fine.” I tried to smile.
“You’re doing great.” He told me.
A couple other people proceeded to encourage me.
I tried not to speak.
When it was finally time for me to swing back across one more time, my friend’s finance was on the other side to catch me again. For some reason, I spun around a little bit when I swung across this time. My feet hit the wooden beam as he caught me and I almost hit the ground. He helped pull me over as I stumbled.
As I almost lost it.
My breathing quickened as my hands searched for something. Anything. My hands on his forearms, he talked to me as he led me to a tree I could rest against.
I wondered how obvious my panic was to those around me.
I waited as patiently as possible until the game was over. I resisted the urge to tear off the blindfold. To back into the woods. To beg people around me to constantly speak so I could know where they were. I was terrified.